Namibia's World Cup identity crisis



Top companies in Namibia celebrated the kick-off of the 2011 Rugby World Cup last Friday in style by challenging their staff members to wear World Cup regalia.

However, The Villager discovered that despite the World Cup momentum gripping much of the country, the only other African country at the World Cup in New Zealand, most Namibian companies ordered their staff to wear Springbok jerseys. And so did some schools in Windhoek.

Budget Car rental in Walvis Bay whose vehicle is pictured, proudly branded most of their cars with Springbok colours and all staff were dressed in the South African national team colours, and so were some branches of Bank Windhoek, The Villager gathered.

“It is very disturbing especially the fact that these companies call themselves Namibian and are operating in Namibia. We are aware that their head offices are in South Africa, but surely they should operate under their Namibian identities. 

“No wonder why some of them never get involved in sponsoring Namibian activities because they are simply branches of South Africa. Forcing Namibian employees to wear South African jerseys is a shame because you are asking Namibians to sell their Namibian pride and nationality just because they work for you. 

“On a different note some are not forced but the management because of their South Africa alliances act as if they are not in Namibia. However, when they want Namibian business then they suddenly claim to be Namibian,” said Tim Ekandjo, of MTC, whose company donated N$1.6m to the Namibia national team which is at the World Cup.

Said, El-Shaddai Nguasena (pictured), a grade four pupil from Windhoek International, who was all Bokkieful, “My mum tried to buy the Namibian jersey but it was N$600. In the end, she bought me this South African jersey in Ackermans for N$60. There was no better option, although I support Namibia.”

Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) chief Christo Alexander did not return calls over the weekend as attempts to establish what the NRU is doing with replica jerseys failed.

The Villager has a list of some Namibian companies that have given their employees the freedom to wear rugby jerseys during the period of the month-long World Cup. Namibia plays South Africa next week, at the World Cup, in an African derby dubbed, ‘David vs. Goliath’, reason being the Springbok’s World Champions status, whereas the Welwitschias are the least ranked at the tournament.